LOS ANGELES, CA- Sydney-bred Ocean Alley swept through The Echo on Wednesday, bringing their signature four guitars and psychedelic presence to the venue. They kicked off a six-week North American tour on May 22—one week for each member of the indie surf-rock band.

Playing for their first time in LA since their stint at the Viper Room exactly a year ago, the boys walked out to a crowd nearly double the size, and with double the energy. A nice showing from the sun-kissed, small-shirt-big-pants crowd (and their Dickies boyfriends) meant The Echo was crowded from wall ledge to sticky bar, with warm laughs giving way to “Aussie Aussie Aussie” chants as Baden, Angus, Lachlan, Mitch, Nic & Tom took the stage.

The bunch launched into the darker, prickly & howling solos of “Overgrown” off of their most recent album, Chiaroscuro. Each member looked as Aussie as their name, hardly moving once rooted and letting their hair do all the waving & bouncing around the full stage.

Baden Donegal is a natural front-man: hatted, dreads hanging, hands filled with rings—he draws eyes and ears with a smooth tonality that he lets turn from throaty croon to lingering vowels with every rolling chorus. He flexes his charm from the start and slides the crowd into “Comedown,” a relatable teen tune about a particularly solid hangover. In classic Echo form, the track’s closing guitar solo, while impressive, forces itself onto the crowd with an almost unbearable loudness. Fortunately, they roll on into “Knees” and hit their stride.

“Knees” is pensive and moody but not too soft around the edges (a theme that holds across the March ’18 album); the crowd picks up and pushes the lyrics right back onto the stage, giving as good as they get until Donegal’s drawing out his final lines. The “Aussie Aussie Aussie”chant breaks out again, and the guys take swigs of their Peronis. Mitch Galbraith, on rhythm guitar, lets us know after the show that “Knees” is likely to be his favorite song that they will play in the whole set on this tour and that Coopers brews from Adelaide are the preferred beer of Ocean Alley, but, you take what you can get.

Ocean Alley. Press photo. Courtesy of the artist. Used with permission.
Ocean Alley. Press photo. Courtesy of the artist. Used with permission.

“Stained Glass” comes next, as the reggae sensibility the band is known for fully kicks in. “Mellow Yellow” is the total commitment, taking the band right back to their 2013 days when their first EP established a new rock sound that was outright joyous and cruisey. Things get loose and warm with “Holiday”, and Lachlan Galbraith gets properly involved on keys during “Flowers and Booze.”

The boys run into some sound issues—nothing that a thrice renewed “Aussie Aussie Aussie” chant can’t patch over, but are ultimately forced to bring everyone back down with a nice slow roller: their “Baby Come Back” cover. Fans will remember this sultry 70’s favorite from their triple j Like a Version last year.

In the end, the band steps off the stage to long, lingering applause but it doesn’t take them much time to head back out for their encore. Things finally wrap with a funky “Confidence,” the hit that has all of us signing back to them, letting the wubwub of the bass line rock hips and heads back and forth into Baden’s supremely catchy chorus.

Ocean Alley bids LA adieu and moves on to the rest of their tour with a stop in Vancouver on Thursday, May 30. Backstage, the happy-go-lucky Galbraith stressed the joys of twelve of them on a van together, insisting on the ease of avoiding hotels entirely. For him and they guys, Canada holds the promise of an even more respectable Aussie contingency, and—come June 6—brand new music to debut out on stage.

After this much needed dose of funk to carry LA through the last cloudy week of Spring, we’ll just be here, hoping they have time to put down their second-rate Peroni, stretch their legs from the van, and stream it for the rest of us.

Follow Ocean Alley on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.




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